Universal Music vs TikTok: Artists Caught in the Crossfire

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Universal Music Group’s decision to pull its catalog from TikTok has left many artists feeling helpless and unheard, despite the label’s claims of protecting their interests.

The Human Impact

While Universal and TikTok wage a public battle, it’s the artists who are bearing the brunt of the fallout. From emerging acts to established songwriters, many are expressing fear and frustration over losing access to the most powerful music promotion tool available.

  • Conan Gray: The Republic/UMG artist joked that his “career’s over for sure” without TikTok, highlighting the platform’s importance for hit songs.
  • Bonnie McKee: The songwriter behind hits for Katy Perry and Britney Spears said, “TikTok is how you get the word out about a new song — and now you’re muting someone’s entire catalog?”
  • Verskotzi: The alt-pop artist shared, “To have the biggest social media platform mute all of the songs that I put so much energy into over the past two or three years — I just broke. It was so hard, so discouraging.”

The Democratization of Music Promotion

TikTok has arguably been the most democratic music promotion platform to date, allowing artists of any level to reach millions of fans for free. This is a stark contrast to the traditional gatekeepers of radio promotion.

As artist Versktozi put it, “Two huge corporations are pulling the strings on behalf of artists. We are the actual product — without us they have nothing, but this showed me how little power we have.

TikTok Looks Weaker

TikTok’s role as a bridge between musicians and fans is at risk.

Popular songs from Universal also provide the backing for countless advertisements and brand collaborations, which could all go instantly silent. The loss of a significant portion of its music catalog shifts the competitive advantage to other platforms like YouTube Shorts and Instagram, where music trends continue to thrive.

Universal’s decision to remove its catalog from TikTok may be framed as a fight for artist rights, but many artists feel it’s a battle that disregards their voices and livelihoods.

Read Deeper: Variety

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